Through trials and tribulations, reading and writing, listening, experiencing, I have discovered a distressing truth that this world we’ve created for ourselves—this rogue capitalist society—is not child friendly.
(Not only is it not child friendly. It is not human friendly. It is not animal friendly. It is not ecosystem friendly. It is harmful. Hurtful.)
It is in no way designed with children’s best interests in mind.
Yet we have the audacity to label, medicate, and punish children who protest. Children who through their “abnormal” behaviors or moods communicate: “Things are amiss.” “I am hurting.” “Let me play.”
It has hit me so hard this year that the increase in childhood mental distress is not just a result of test-based education, inadequate parenting skills, broken homes, poverty… It is caused by the very core of our economic system where everything is for sale and little attention is paid to the common good.
This is big.
We know the source of the problem. We can stop band-aiding and start creating real, lasting solutions. But there are so many obstacles in the way: Citizens United, undemocratic campaign financing, multi-national corporations, sketchy trade agreements, policies favoring corporate vs. human interests.
Lack of time…
I want to shout from the rooftops all day that we can create a better society for our children if we take the time to look at the bigger picture. If we create policies that reduce income inequality, provide dignified occupation for all, discourage rampant consumerism, allow young people to get an education that helps them match their skills with their interests, provide basic needs for all people—realizing that all people contribute to society in their own way.
But I too am stuck in the system—in need of income to pay for a mortgage and food and other needs and wants. I have a full-time job. I’m tired when I’m done with work. I want to embrace a slow lifestyle that is largely unplugged when I’m off the clock. I don’t want to wile my life away on Facebook and Twitter.
And therein lies the dilemma.
Do I work into the evening and on weekends to get my voice heard through writing and an online social presence to try to make change happen for our kids? Or do I live slowly—lingering over dinner, meeting up with friends for laughs and conversation, making myself available to others, taking care of my body, making music, sitting quietly and just being?
I’ve been trying on slow living for the past week at our new home in Northern Virginia. My husband and I have a one-bedroom apartment with minimal maintenance. We have an empty nest. I’m working from home. And my next MBA class doesn’t start until the end of October. I haven’t started any new projects.
It’s been nice. We’ve gone for post-dinner walks with our dog. We’ve gone out to eat. We’ve socialized. We even went to Target together (what?!).
It’s been… normal.
But there is a constant nagging at the back of my mind—urging me to keep telling our story. To help people make the connection between kids’ mental health and social justice (the solution is not more mental health services). To advocate for the next generation. To find more ways go make my voice heard.
A dilemma indeed.
I would love your words of wisdom now.